Tag Archives: Horse Scout

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TEARS AND BEERS AT CHELTENHAM

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Magners Cheltenham Festival Roundup

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The Cheltenham Festival never fails to throw up emotion tales but this year set a precedent in the “weep stakes”. The magnificent Al Boum, provided Irish trainer Willie Mullins with a first victory in the G1 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup. Mullins who is the Festival’s most successful trainer with 65 winners over several decades, has made 26 attempts to win the Gold Cup, finishing second six times.

 

“I had resigned myself to never winning a Gold Cup,” said Mullins, whose father Paddy Mullins trained Dawn Run to win in 1986.  It was also a first Gold Cup win for Irish jockey Paul Townend who has ridden for Mullins since he was 17 years old.

 

It was a number of formidable efforts by women which really stirred the souls this year. There was the winning owner of Klassical Dream, Joanne Coleman, whose husband had died from bone marrow cancer just nine months earlier. John Coleman who sadly never lived to see his horse race and had never had a Festival winner was there “in spirit” though. Joanne carried his ashes in her handbag. Another widow is the spotlight was trainer Kayleigh Woollacott, who had taken over her husband’s trainers license after he took his own life last year. Despite being one of the favourites, sadly it was not Lalor’s day to shine but we hope to see him back next year.

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Bryony Frost was our favourite winner of the week and had the crowds in rapturous applause, after making history as the first female jockey to win a Grade 1 (top-level) race over jumps at The Festival. The 23-year-old claimed one of the hardest fought battles to win by little more than a length over Charlie Deutsch and Aso, trained by Venetia Williams.

 

Frost’s reaction to her win was one of humility and empathy and made the front pages of several newspapers. Interviewed after the race, she reflected all the glory on her horse Frodon. “I can’t explain how much I love that horse. He is the most incredible battler. When he got overtaken two out, most horses would quit, but he grabbed me by the hands and said don’t you dare give up, don’t you dare not send me into the last, I want this more than you, now come on!”

 

“He would not lie down. It’s a lesson for us. Sometimes you might go down but you’ve got to get up and get going again, and at the last, he was just magic. Then when he got to the front he did his usual and took it all in. Just like I did.”

 

An hour later, Paisley Park claimed the G1 Sun Racing Stayer’ Hurdle, for female trainer Emma Lavelle and the horse’s owner Andrew Gemmell, who has been blind since birth. The following race of St Patrick’s Thursday was won by a bold front-running performance from Lizzie Kelly who said “I watched Bryony and thought ‘that was my game plan’. When Irish jockey Rachael Blackmore claimed another Grade 1 race, making that her second win of the week, it reminded us that, in the words of leading trainer, Dan Skelton “I think it is about time we stopped talking about lady jockeys and just call them jockeys”.

 

Indeed the sight of Blackmore on the winners podium in Ireland is a weekly one. The 29-year-old has claimed an incredible 84 winners in Ireland and currently sits a close second behind Paul Townend in the stake to become Irish Champion Jockey. Speaking after Blackmore’s victory in the G1Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, the winning trainer Henry de Bromhead said of the jockey; “We’ve been so lucky to have her. She’s a brilliant rider. What can you say- she just wins.”

 

There were record crowds every day for this year’s Festival with 266,779 people attending over four days. Willie Mullins won the Leading Trainers’ title whilst Nico de Boinville finished the week as leading jockey with three wins. Rachael Blackmore finished in an impressive sixth place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL- WHO, HOW AND WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT THIS YEAR.

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Tuesday 12th - Friday 15th March 

 

£100,000,000- the economic impact of The Festival on the local community each year.

262,637 people attended over four days last year

£4.59 million in prize money

40,000 hospitality guests

100 helicopter movements per day

45,000 bread rolls eaten

265,000 pints of Guinness served

120,000 bottles of wine consumed

45,000  afternoon teas served

£2.35 million was withdrawn from the cash machines at the Festival last year.

£45 million spent on redeveloping Cheltenham

 

But beyond big bucks, betting, boozing and carb loading, The Cheltenham Festival presented by Magners, is a celebration of everything that is great about horseracing. It never fails to deliver sporting action that makes your heart want to explode. A clash of the best- the world’s greatest horses, jump jockeys and trainers. It will always throw up inspiring and moving tales of triumph and heartbreak. And if that is not enough to lift your heart, it also embodies the sense of occasion that we Brits do so well. The chance to flirt and flaunt and embrace the social scene, the fashion, and style. Who would have guessed twenty years ago, that tweed would become ever become sexy?

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Horse Scout will be there to soak up the entertainment and most importantly the sport. As ever it will be a four day spectacular, this year running from Tuesday 12thto Friday 15th March.

 

Tuesday kicks off with Champions Day and the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at 1.30pm. The headline race is the Unibet Champion Hurdle which has been won for the last two years by Buveur D’Air. The Nicky Henderson champ will be returning to defend his title again and if he wins, he will go into the hall of fame with greats like Istabraq who dominated the race from 1988-2000. The crowd will undoubtedly be behind Lalor in the Racing Post Arkle. Trained by the small-stable of Kayleigh Woollacott who has taken over from her husband, after he tragically took his own life last year.

 

Wednesday is Ladies Day. The fashionistas and socialites are out in force but for racing, it’s all about speed and stamina. The Betway Queen Mother Champions Chase is one of the most high-octane races of the entire week as the fastest two-milers in the business, cream it around a demanding Steeplechase course. All eyes will be on Altior who goes for a second win and has not been beaten in 17 starts over jumps. The RSA Novices’ Chase, at over three miles, is the test for true stayers. Whilst the Cross-Country Chase is always enthralling and perhaps commands more respect after last year’s winner, Tiger Roll went on to win at the Grand National soon after. He will be back to stake his claim this year. Perhaps trainer Gordon Elliott sees this as another dress rehearsal for the National next month.

 

The St Patrick’s Day crowd on Thursday is always a hearty one and for racing enthusiasts, it is set to be an awesome equine lineup. The Ryanair Chase, the Sun Bets Stayers Hurdle, the JLT Novices’ Chase, and the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle are all Grade One races (the best) which brings out the crème de la crème of the National Hunt fraternity. Paisley Park, trained by Emma Lavelle will be the favourite for the Stayers Hurdle and another moving story if he wins for his owner Andrew Gemmell who was born blind. Plus Love Island’s Chris Hughes joins the ITV team to get involved in the banter and opinion.

 

Friday is Gold Cup Day which rounds off the week with the most coveted prize of all. The Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup is the race they all want to win- trainers, jockeys, owners and punters alike. Nothing beats the “Cheltenham roar” as the world’s best horses thunder up that grueling hill to the winning post, cheered on by 70,000 onlookers in the stands and many millions around the world. This year sees some legendary horses in the entries list. We will never forget that heroic battle between Native River and Might Bite last year and if all goes to plan, both horses will be running again. Let’s not forget “Presenting Percy”, considered in Ireland as the “People’s Champion”. It will also be a first Gold Cup Challenge for Bryony Frost, whose strong partnership with Frodon has seen the pair win three of her last four races. If it was to be their day, Bryony would be the first female jockey in history to win the Gold Cup.

 

If you can’t be there in body, be there in spirit by tuning into live ITV Racing, on ITV daily from Tuesday to Friday 1pm-4.30 pm. The Opening Show is on ITV4 from 9.30-10.30 am. Delivered by the BAFTA award-winning team of Ed Chamberlain and Francesca Cumani and the fun and knowledgeable crew of Oli Bell, A P McCoy, Mick Fitzgerald, Matt Chapman, Alice Plunkett, Luke Harvery and Brough Scott amongst others

 

Although if you are planning to join the fun and look “Insta ready”, don’t forget our friends at Glow & Dry. The luxury styling concierge and their experienced team will be on hand to travel to your home or hotel, offering hair and make-up to have you looking your very best.

 

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Jessica Springsteen wins Leading Lady Award at the Winter Equestrian Festival

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In the seventh week of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, Florida, Jessica Springsteen was named the Martha Jolicoeur Leading Lady Rider Award. The prize was awarded on Saturday, February 23, during CSI5* week of WEF, where she was presented with champagne, flowers and a shopping spree at Hunt Ltd. What more could a girl need huh?

 

It was a successful week for 27-year-old Jessica who rode the 10-year-old Selle Français mare, Volage du Val Henry, to sixth place in the 7thround of the $134,000 CSI5* Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup. This qualified her for Saturday evening’s main CSI5*. She again earned a top-10 placing in the $391,000 CSI5* Palm Beach Equine Clinic Grand Prix, this time riding RMF Zecilie, a 12-year-old Holsteiner mare owned by Rushy Marsh Farm.

 

“It’s really exciting to be named Leading Lady!” said Jessica. “My horses jumped great all week, and winning this award is a great finish to a lovely weekend.”

 

The Martha Jolicoeur Overall Leading Lady Rider Award will be presented to the female rider who accumulates the most points throughout the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival,. So far this year, Erynn Ballard, Laura Chapot, Margie Engle, Tiffany Foster, Lauren Hough, and Beezie Madden have claimed weekly awards and in contention of the overall title.

 

A leading South Florida real estate broker and part of the elite Douglas Elliman Real Estate Sports and Entertainment division, Jolicoeur has supported WEF as an integral sponsor for the past nine consecutive years. Throughout WEF, the Martha Jolicoeur Leading Lady Rider Award, given in memory of fellow realtor and horsewoman Dale Lawler, is presented weekly to the high-score female rider based on performances in the weekly WEF Challenge Cup Series and Grand Prix events.

 

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POLO POWERHOUSE MALCOLM BORWICK ANNOUNCED AS HORSE SCOUT POLO AMBASSADOR

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We are excited to welcome professional polo player and global ambassador Malcolm Borwick to the Horse Scout network. With over 50 caps for the England team to his name and player contracts for teams in USA, Argentina, South Africa, Spain, France as well as the UK, his life and career has been a richly varied one since turning professional at the age of 18. Equestrian Journalist Ellie from HorsescoutPR.com team caught up with the 42 year old at the International Polo Club in Palm Beach.

 

Malcolm comes from a long line of polo enthusiasts. His great grandfather was a contender for the prestigious Westchester Cup in 1902 and his grandmother played in the first ever women’s test match in 1924

 

Much of Malcolm’s time is taken up as a polo ambassador for a number of brands and organisations, but he still plays at the top end of the sport and plays off a 6 goal handicap. His life has been a unique and thrilling adventure, involving globetrotting to polo hot spots and playing in some of the most significant polo events.

 

As well as supporting the brands he is involved with and helping to try and grow the sport with his enthusiasm. His wife Alexandra and three young children- Ines, Jaime and Lucas are lucky enough to join the ride. They travel the world as a polo family and the children are educated at local schools in each country, speaking both English and Spanish fluently.

 

 

Where did it all start? 

 

I was born in Hampshire but grew up in Northamptonshire. As a child I did everything- hunting, jumping team chasing and Pony Club until I was 10. Then I started playing Pony Club polo at 10 and that took over as my main focus.

 

Why polo?

 

It’s the sum of all sports. I played cricket, tennis, rugby, golf growing up. You add in a horse and the dynamic nature of the sport of polo, team mates, the complexity of the sport, the adrenalin, the opportunities for travel. It encapsulates what you would want out of every single sport. The interesting thing about polo is you can never have the perfect day. I’m good friends with a guy who has the record for the number of goals scored in the most difficult competition in the world. Even he says he wished he’s scored that extra shot and he scored 17 goals that day. I think that keeps you striving for success.

 

As a global polo ambassador, which brands and organisations are you involved with? 

 

Piaget, Maserati, Royal Salute Scotch Whiskey, La Martina are the main ones. I have come to Palm Beach to be a global ambassador for the International Polo Club. It is quite simply the best polo club in the world and has all the makings and positioning to be the power house not just in North America but in World Polo.

 

 

Reflecting on your life and career as a polo player, what have been the highlights? 

 

As a child, my aspiration as to put on an England shirt. I played a lot of cricket before I played polo. Back then, if you had given me the choice between walking on to the pitch at Lords and playing Test cricket or playing polo, I might have said Test cricket. But putting on my England polo shirt for the first time was a very special day. Then winning the Coronation Cup three times during the peak of my career, they are great memories.

 

Rumour has it you are friends with the Royals and went to Prince Harry’s wedding?

 

I have been very lucky to be involved with the Royal Family. I’m not even sure how I stumbled into it. I ended up playing an awful lot of polo with Prince William and Harry over the last 15 years so we have a great relationship. I have been lucky enough to play with them at all their charitable events and we have raised millions for their charities.

 

What is going on at the moment for you and what is on the horizon?

 

I am heavily involved with Gladiator Polo right now. It’s a new concept in the sport. It takes place in a much smaller arena so the audience are up really close. It is different from normal polo- three a side rather than four. There will be no amateur or patron playing so all the players will be professionals. This will make it very fast and furious and it’s a shorter format and shorter chukkas. The sponsorship will be much more mainstream than luxury- brands like Coca Cola and Mars.

 

We want the audience to interact and engage with the sport and become followers. We would love more people to take up the sport and this is casting the net wide and trying to find as many more interested people to either just enjoy watching or get involved.

 

 

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Mexican Young Guns take Nations Cup glory

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In any sport when the underdog wins, it makes for great entertainment. So when the Mexican team took a decisive victory in the very first leg of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup in Wellington, Florida the press conference was a joyous affair.

 

The youthful foursome fought off some of the world’s most successful nations including the USA, Canada, and Ireland. In fact, it was the youngest two Mexican riders with the least team experience who sealed the deal with their double clear performances. These came from 23-year-old Eugenio Garza Perez riding Victer Fin DHZ and 24-year-old Manuel Gonzalez Dufrane on the athletic grey mare Hortensia van de Leeuwerk. The other two riders played their part with low-faulted rounds from Fernando Martinez Sommer (29) on Cor Bakkar and Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado (25) riding Tino la Chapelle.

 

Tryon’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 course designer, Ireland’s Alan Wade, set a track that tested rideability, and the final line of a one-stride triple combination to big oxer proved the undoing of many. However with three first-round clears the Mexicans were already in command at the halfway stage on a zero score, trailed by Ireland and USA on eight, Israel close behind with nine, last year’s Wellington winners from Canada on 12 and the three-member Colombian side already trailing the field with 16 on the board.

 

The Mexican quartet kept a cool head and clung on to their lead in the second round, which caught out a number of the world’s leading riders such as World No 2 Mclain Ward and Beezie Madden who both faulted. Fernando Martinnez Sommer commented on the technicality of the course. “The course was difficult enough, for me my horse has a very big stride so I had to go a bit steady all the time.”

 

All four riders were quick to praise their Chef d’Equipe Constant van Paesschen, not just for their Nations Cup victory but what he has delivered to Mexican showjumping during his short career so far. Stany van Paesschen had similar positive words “From when I came two years ago, I said I am going to try as much as I can to push some young riders forward. We have some great young riders but we also have some great support from professional and older riders. I think we have a great team.”

 

Garza Perez, who trains with legendary Irish rider Eddie Macken and is the only member of the Mexican side to be based in the USA, said: “Today’s result is a testament to the quality of the next generation of young Mexican riders.”

 

He was a member of the historic site that posted that spectacular win in Dublin last August. “That day was an inspiration to us all!” he pointed out. And now the main Mexican goal is a place at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final 2019.

 

“There’s an Olympic place on offer in Barcelona and we intend to take it!” He said.

 

Team Israel had a great show too. Daniel Bluman’s double-clear with Ladriano Z bolstering an impressive all-round performance that saw them add nothing to their first-round nine-fault tally for the second spot. The Americans looked strongest at the outset, with an extremely experienced team of Beezie Madden, McLain Ward and Laura Kraut joined by young star Lucy Deslauriers. But single errors proved costly, so they will be hoping to turn the tables when their regional League moves to Mexico next time around. Only Mexico, USA, and Canada were entitled to qualifying points in today’s competition, so they claimed 100, 80 and 60 points respectively.

 

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LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE MARES AT THE LONGINES WORLDS BEST RACEHORSE AWARDS

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Just as women are changing the game in today’s world of sport, business and politics, you may have noticed that the “fairer sex” of the four-legged variety, are making headlines in the equine world. A number of leading mares have claimed world titles prestigious accolades recently. And at the end of last month, the winner of the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Awards was announced as Winx. The Australian flat race mare has won 29 consecutive stakes races including 22 Group 1s.

 

Winx is not the only mare to dominate the racing scene. The British thoroughbred Enable, who featured eighth in the 2018 Longines world rankings, has been one of the most dominant middle-distance horses in Europe for several years. Last year, after winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for the second time she went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Making history in the process, as the first horse to achieve this feat.

 

2018 was also a great year for mares as well as girls in Equestrian sport. The 15-year-old mare Classic Moet, won Badminton under Jonelle Price- the first female rider to win in 11 years. Whilst show-jumper Simone Blum riding DSP Alice and Dressage stars, Isabel Werth on Bella Rose were individual winners the showjumping and dressage world titles at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon.

 

But back to racing and the grand affair that I was lucky enough to be invited to. On Wednesday, January 23, Longines and its long-time partner the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), hosted the 2018 Longines World’s Best Racehorse, World’s Best Horse Race and World’s best jockey ceremony in the Landmark Hotel, London. With an equal rating of 130, Winx and Cracksman were together declared the 2018 winners. Frankie Dettori celebrated the leading jockey award, a clear leader with the highest number of points. It was a French victory as the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was chosen as the best horse race in the world.

 

For Winx, this was the third year in a row that the nine-year-old has won the award. In addition, she has been the highest rated filly/mare in the world since 2016 as well as the top-ranked turf horse. In 2018, her season culminated in her becoming the only horse in history to win the Ladbrokes Cox Plate four times. What is also significant about this tough mare, is her longevity in a sport which is rarely a long career for horses. Winx has consistently won over five seasons and is going into her sixth with no immediate plans to retire. Yet she has proved her versatility, speed, and staying power, by winning over a range of distances from 6 ½ furlongs (1300 metres) to 11 furlongs (2200 furlongs).

 

What is also unique, is that unlike many elite racehorses, Winx does not have a particularly long stride. Her stride was measured at 6.76 metres compared to 8.5 metres for other horses of similar calibre. Instead, her success has been attributed to a freakish stride rate that allows her to take 14 strides for every 5 seconds, compared to 12 for her rivals. According to Dr. Graeme Putt, who has studied the science of racehorse success, this is a unique advantage. “This means she can settle or accelerate at any time during a race.”

 

Winx was sold as a yearling for 230,000 Australian dollars (just under £128,000) at the 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast sale. She has already amassed around A$23 million dollars (around £12.74 million) in prize money under trainer Chris Waller and her principal jockey Hugh Bowman. She is owned by Magic Bloodstock Racing, Richard Treweeke, and Debbie Kepitis. Most of her connections came over to collect the Longines prize and we were lucky enough to get an exclusive interview with Debbie Kepitis about the courageous mare who has changed their lives.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JopbA-fjSwM&feature=youtu.be

 

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How to win the Puissance on a horse you’ve never ridden before

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Horse Scout reporting at the TheraPlateUK Liverpool International Horse Show 

 

The Puissance is the ultimate test of horsemanship. It measures bravery, scope and the ability to hold your nerve. It is an event that never fails to fill seats and excite a crowd and cause a stir. This year’s Puissance at Liverpool International unfolded like a fairy tale and the end to a great year for British rider Matt Sampson, who finished in joint first after clearing 7ft 3” (2m20). Not only was he a relative rookie against the big red wall, but he achieved the feat with a horse he was riding for the very first time- Laura Renwick’s Top Dollar VI.

 

Eleven combinations competed which ran for the maximum five rounds. It was whittled down to just two in the final round with Matt sharing the honours with Irish youngster, Michael Pender. Michael was riding the scopey mare Hearton du Bois,  with whom he won the Dublin Horse Show Puissance this year.

 

Matt’s catch ride, Top Dollar VI may have more experience than his rider, having jumped a number of Puissance classes with Laura. In fact, the pair won the class at Olympia in 2017 but Laura decided to hand the reins over to Matt less than an hour before the class. That being said, to take on any new horse before a class and win it, is one helluva feat. Let alone to put faith in one another to jump the unjumpable.

 

Matt reveals how he prepared himself mentally for the challenge:

 

“I didn’t know him at all but maybe that’s not always such a bad thing. I just tried to ride forward to it and give him a little bit of room because he’s such a big horse. You’ve just got to keep them confident but then he’s a very good horse. It got easier each time as I just figured him out and trusted him a bit more and it just went on from there.”

 

So what does it feel like jumping that wall? “It feels amazing” he smiles. “I’ve actually only done one Puissance before at a show in Holland. So I didn’t have a lot of experience in the class.”

 

Preparation outside is minimal he explains. “It’s very hard to prepare in the warm up to jump a wall. Because we don’t have a wall in there, we just have a vertical and an oxer. I did a couple of verticals and an oxer but only about 1m40 to 1m 50 high. In comparison to what we are jumping in the arena, it’s not a lot but I think it’s better to keep the horses confident so if they go in the ring thinking that they can jump it, then it’s got to give you a better chance.

 

About an hour before the class, Laura (Renwick) rang me and asked me what I was doing and I said “nothing”. So she said did I want to ride her horse in the Puissance.

 

When asked if he had many catch rides in his career. He responded humbly with “not really”. Until legendary jumper Geoff Billington interjected with “he’s the King of Catch rides this one” referring to Matt’s win in the Hickstead Speed Derby on a catch ride Top Flight True Carlo in Hickstead’s Derby meeting.  In May, Matt had the biggest win of his career when claiming the prestigious Hamburg Derby, aboard Gloria van Zuuthoeve.

 

Whilst it is apparent, Matt would love to ride the gallant chestnut, Top Dollar again, he is philosophical about it. “I don’t know if it will happen again- probably not. But if I don’t ride him again, it was a good way to end on a high. He jumped amazing and it filled me with confidence.”

Written by Ellie Kelly

Liverpool International Horse Show - Dressage - Charlotte Dujardin

Wowed by Liverpool

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Our roving reporter, Ellie Kelly heads down to the TheraPlate UK Liverpool International Horse Show  to check out the action.

 

It was my first visit to Liverpool-  both the city and the show and I have not been disappointed. Despite the 600 mile round trip, within hours of being there, I decided to make it a regular fixture. Nina Barbour has delivered a first-class event to this vibrant city. In a part of the world which is rich in horse enthusiasts and professional riders but surprisingly short of major equestrian events. Testament to the quality and production of the show, leading riders from the worlds of showjumping and dressage were competing, even at a time when many professional yards wind down over Christmas. Still a relatively new show, Liverpool International is gathering momentum but with leading riders some great entertainment, I wasn’t surprised to see the Echo Arena with very few empty seats.

 

On the first day, Charlotte Dujardin reminded she is no one-hit wonder when claiming the Equitop Myoplast Freestyle Dressage. The multi-medaled Olympian scored 81.938% on her flashy eight-year-old mare, Florentina VI in the Intermediate 1 class. Earlier in the evening, she paraded Valegro to an excited crowd at the Echo arena.

 

Also on Friday, teen showjumper Jack Whitaker won the Liverpool International Under 25 Grand Prix, sponsored by Equerry Horse Feeds. The son of Michael Whitaker has had another great year, including winning a silver medal at the Youth Olympics in Argentina.

 

It was a great day for the girls on the second day. Pony rider Claudia Moore repeated her great Liverpool victory of 2017 in the 148cm Championships, sponsored by Carden Arms. Claudia was a member of Great-Britain’s Pony European Championships this summer, where she claimed individual bronze. In the evening, Harriet Nuttall who scored the fastest jump-off time to win the four-star Voltaire sponsored jumping class, somewhat fittingly as the Somerset rider is sponsored by Voltaire.

 

On Day three Harry Charles underlined his status as one of world showjumping’s most exciting prospects by claiming a brilliant victory at the TheraPlateUK Liverpool International Horse Show.

 

The 19-year-old, from Alton in Hampshire, won the 1.45m international speed class, sponsored by Hope Valley Saddlery, with bay mare Doulita.

 

It proved to be a thrilling competition, with Harry’s time of 57.28 seconds proving just enough to edge out Graham Babes. They were both members of Great Britain’s gold medal-winning European Young Riders team earlier this year.

 

“It was an amazing win,” Harry said, after collecting a £7,300 victor’s purse. “I own the horse, which makes it extra special. I’ve had her a year, and every day I have put work into her to get her to this level.

 

Harry, son of London 2012 Great Britain team showjumping gold medallist Peter Charles, added: “It has been an absolutely fantastic year for me. Liverpool last year was my first real big show, and since then my whole career has taken off. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I want to win every time, it is the best feeling in the world, and I chase that every day in training. I want to make sure I do my best.

 

It was England and Ireland who shared top honours in the Puissance on Sunday evening. Yorkshireman Matt Sampson and Irish challenger Michael shared the top prize after they both jumped 2.20 metres (7ft 3in) to clear the famous red wall in a class sponsored by Equitop GLME.

 

And for Matt, it was a remarkable result, given that he only knew about his ride – Top Dollar VI – barely 30 minutes before the start after its regular rider Laura Renwick rang and offered him the ride.

 

“I’ve only ever done one Puissance before but he filled me with confidence and it got easier as I figured him out a bit more,” said Matt.

 

There will be more hot off the press action from the final day of the TheraPlate UK Liverpool International Horse Show.

 

 

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CATCHING UP WITH A YOUTUBE STAR: THIS ESME

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With her entertaining and informative video series, 17 year old Esme Higgs has become a YouTube star. In fact “This Esme” has become the world’s largest equestrian YouTube channel with 3.5 million views monthly. Ellie Kelly caught up with her ahead of the TheraPlateUK Liverpool International Horse Show, where she will be coming along to enjoy the show and meet her fans.

Do you remember your first time on a pony?

Yes, at a friend’s 5th birthday party, I was 4 at the time. I remember feeling so high up and the pony seemed massive, however looking back on it the pony was probably only 12hh.

What is it about riding and the lifestyle that you love?

So many things! Being outside, sharing my life with animals, developing a bond, trust and partnership with my horse.

How do you juggle going to college with your horses?

For me, looking after the horses is a pleasure and a real break from school work and studying. It has just become part of my everyday routine. I try and manage my time well to fit in as much as I can.

Do you ride every day?

I’d love to, but at the moment with winter and my A-levels around the corner, it’s hard. However next year when my studies are done I have lots of riding planned, both in the UK and around the world.

Why did you decide to start making videos?

I started making small videos on my phone to track my progress with my pony Casper, so I could look back and see how much I’d improved. Quickly, and to my surprise, views and subscribers increased and I now post a video at least weekly and get over 3 million views a month from people all over the world.

Best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Work hard, play hard

Have you ever had anything nasty written about you on social media or to your face?

I’ve met lots of people face to face who watch my videos and every one of them has been really friendly and positive. I also get lots of mail sent for “Mail time with Mickey” videos and again people are all so lovely. However, I do occasionally get a negative comment- it seems to be inevitable that if you put yourself out there you will get some criticism as understandably everyone has different opinions on things.

What advice would you give to people who might have suffered that?

Whilst its easier said than done, I try and ignore it, and would advise others to do the same. Don’t reply or give them any attention, and remember that the negative comments are far outweighed by all the positive feedback. Also, you don’t know what’s happening in the life of the person who has left the negative message.

What do you want to be when you finish school?

Once I finish school, I’m going to spend a year doing YouTube full time and see how that goes. During that year, I’ve got plans to travel and visit, amongst other places, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Ireland and Japan. I’m hoping to have more equestrian experiences and film them in the process. Following this I’d like to go to University and ultimately work with horses.

What couldn’t you live without and why?

Apart from horses? Coffee

Which horse would you most love to ride?

A big event horse like Ballaghmor Class

What makes you laugh?

Mickey, he’s just the funniest pony

What makes you cry?

At the moment….Thermodynamics in Chemistry

Where are you happiest?

Outside- whatever the weather!

Favourite book?

The Harry Potter series as they got me into reading when I was younger.

Favourite film?

Anything Sci Fi

Favourite food?

Italian, can’t go wrong with pizza or pasta

Casper’s favourite treat?

Stud Muffins!

You’re coming to Liverpool- what will you be doing there?

I’ll be making a film for YouTube as well as being part of the signing zone and meeting my viewers. I’ll also no doubt enjoy the shopping and the show!

What is on your Christmas list?

A unicorn!

What is on Casper’s Christmas list?

Lots of treats….

New Year’s Resolutions

To keep coming up with new ideas to try and make my YouTube content better and better.

You can meet Esme at the Liverpool and see a host of other equestrian stars at the TheraPlate UK Liverpool International Horse Show, which runs from 28th-31st December. Tickets still available www.liverpoolhorseshow.com

 

 

Ben Maher & Triple X III

BEN MAHER

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The Horse Scout team catches up with Ben Maher at the Longines Global Champions Playoffs in Prague this weekend. 

 

Ben Maher has had a cracking season in the Longines Global Champions Series. After winning three Grand Prix, he was crowned as the overall winner of the LGCT after winning Rome in September. His horse, Explosion W is just nine years old. The seemingly unstoppable pair went on to Doha, the final leg of the Series to win both the Grand Prix and captain his team- the London Knights to another victory in the Longines Global Champions League.

 

The Global Champions League has really taken off. As team Manager of the London Knight’s, what has been the strategy behind your success for most of the season?

A lot of thought and planning goes into it. We will have a meeting in January to find out what horses everyone has available and work out where to aim those horses and what everyone’s commitments are. So it’s a 90% plan for the first half of the season. There’s a text group and most of the time it stays serious but the guys sometimes fool around a bit. We have a very strong team spirit.

This year I’ve been lucky, there has been a very strong team bond and they have all taken it very seriously and that’s why we’ve managed to be so successful.

 

What is the significance of the Global Champions Series to the sport and how has it changed it? 

It has been great for the sport. We ride every weekend for 100,000 euros to the winner. It was only five years ago that we were riding for 20,000 and thought that was a big weekend. It’s pushed the level of prize money monumentally. I never thought I would see prize money come to our sport this fast.

 

With that, the horse values have increased. It’s brought more sponsors in and hopefully, there will be TV right from big broadcasters. Maybe, in the end, we can get it back on mainstream TV because it is a great sport. There are lots of kids who have ponies or dream of having ponies. They have a connection with what we do. Like people who play tennis at the weekend, love watching Andy Murray. I Hope that within my career it can come back to what it was because I really believe it’s a great sport to watch.

 

The GCT and the GCL are continually trying to improve and grow the sport. It’s brought some colour to the sport. We’ve been very lucky to ride in these unique venues and now fans can actually follow a team and we have team colours to make it stand out. Slowly it’s building momentum and I really think that in ten years time, it will be huge.

 

Does the attractive prize fund detract you from competing at other significant competitions and making team appearance?

Obviously, the prize money is increasingly growing in the GCT but it’s not growing comparatively at other competitions. I’m still committed to my country and supportive of the Nations Cup Series and the Championships. My decision not to be available for Championships was based on the fact I have a younger team of horses and Championships are a lot harder on a horse than one Grand Prix on a Global Champions Tour so it was in the best interests for my horses’ welfare.

 

We still have not qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, so you think there is a chance we may not get there? 

We have two chances next year at Rotterdam in the European Championships and then Barcelona for the Nations Cup Final and I will do my best to make that happen.

 

I will never forget riding for my life in Aachen to qualify for the Rio Olympics. It was harder getting to Rio than it was in Rio and I never want to get to that point again. It’s a sport where we are always moving, some people who may not have helped to qualify still make it on to an Olympic team because they have the right horse at the right time and you have to have that in consideration. I also have owners that own my horses and it’s not always my decision.

 

How do you think it will grow the sport?

The GCT and GCL, runs at a slightly higher pace so that keeps the interest. Rather than 40 horses with riders all dressed the same, I agree it can be like watching paint dry- like Formula 1. Where the sport is interesting is looking at the tactics, the training and what goes on behind the scenes before those 60 seconds we spend in the ring. I think this is how we can really draw the audience into what we do and then they can bond with the horses as we do ourselves.

 

It looks like an incredible life from the outside but what is the reality?

I’m incredibly lucky to do the sport that I love and enjoy. But I’ve been on the road 50 weeks this year. I barely know what home is. I’ve also had the best season of my career and I wouldn’t change it for the world. We lose more often than we win and I just try to enjoy it as much as I can.

 

Whilst you are now winning big, the overheads must be enormous? 

The expenses are huge. It’s travel for both horse and rider and we are living in hotels most of the time. There are 40 horses within our team with 20 members of staff, planes, trucks. The reality is that the prize money a horse can win now and the value of the horses, it’s now in keeping with what it costs to run a horse.

 

With these horses, there is no expense spared. They are treated like high-level athletes. They are better looked after than I am. They live in the Four Seasons hotel lifestyle every single day. They have physios, specialist care and in many cases have one groom per horse. They are the athlete and that is how we take care of them. Thankfully the sport has now developed enough to help make it financially viable for investors and owners to be part of the sport

 

Highlight of your career

Competing at the Olympic Games in London where we won team gold. It’s a moment that won’t be repeated in my lifetime at a home game. I would like to go to another Olympics and the dream is to win both a team and an individual gold medal. A double gold would be the ultimate!

 

Do you think we could win a medal at the next Olympics? 

I think anything is possible. This year I didn’t think it would be possible to win the Global Champions Tour Final on two young horses.

 

What do you think of the state of British showjumping at the moment? 

We have a lot of good young riders in the UK but I don’t think it’s a sport where riding is just enough anymore. I think you have to be a very rounded person and you have to be able to communicate with sponsors, owners. I think it’s looking bright, I believe We are just a few years off being very strong. Myself and Scott have had a very good year and I hope we can be a part of that and lead the way for young riders like Emily Moffit, Jack Whitaker, and Harry Charles but we don’t have a lot of time before the next Olympics so we need to accelerate and get things moving quickly.

 

https://www.gcglobalchampions.com